Street Food in Mumbai: Dive in

Mumbai is the hotbed for a rags-to-riches story. And have you ever noticed how these stories begin? At Mumbais street food stalls! No, really. Cutting chai and vada pav is the survival tool kit you need. And the great bit is, its delicious. Long after you dont really need to, you keep wanting to binge on the absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious delicacies at all times, breakfast, brunch, lunch, evening snack, dinner, late night snack. Heres a list of some of the most popular street foods in Mumbai, and the best places to eat them.

Vada Pav

Often touted as the Indian burger the vada pav is a humble food that entices. A simple potato stuffing, covered in gram flour and fried to piping hot perfection is eaten with pav or bread. Add a dash of salted fried chillies, sweet tamarind chutney, green chilli chutney or dry garlic chutney. Top it off with some hot masala chai on a rainy day. Heavenly delight.
Best places to eat: Ashok Vada Pav (near Kirti College, Dadar), the 70 year old Aaram Vada Pav, in CST and Anand Vada Pav or Dheeraj Vada Pav, opposite Mithibai college, Vile Parle.

Pav Bhaji & Tawa Pulao

Vegetables would not be half as delicious without the Pav Bhaji and Tawa Pulao, and the Juhu Beach not half as famous. Served best with a generously buttered pav, it can be eaten with almost anything from khakhra to chapati. It is the food impossible to resist. Just a whiff of the aroma from any pav bhaji stall and you must have it! No option.
Best places to eat: Juhu Beach and Sardar Pav Bhaji in Tardeo. For an elaborate list, check out this NearFox guide.

Chaat

Mumbais food is like its people. A random mix of ingredients, with lots of flavour a little crunch and lots of taste. Take the chaat for example. The omnipresent pani puri, the sev puri, the channa chor garam, papdi chaat, the ragda puri, bhel, dry bhel, ragda pattice! Much variety, such taste. All delight!
Best places to eat: Elco in Bandra is famous for its chaat corner, especially the pani puris. Swati snacks in Tardeo is another must-visit chaat joint. Sharmajee’s and Badshah’s at Girgaon Chowpatty is known for his iconic bhel.
PS: Try out any local chaat seller, and see how differently each seller makes his chaat.

Image by Riyabose123/CC BY-SA 3.0

Chinese

It is also called nukkad Chinese, or the more infamous gutter chinese. Say what you will, no amount of authenticity beats the flavours of a roadside Chinese joint, especially the shezwan noodles or the legendary Chinese bhel.
Best places to eat: HR Chinese (Strictly college-going crowd) in HR College, Sagar Chinese in Vile Parle, Shettys outside Bhavans College, Andheri are some amazing places you must not miss out on!

Image by Aparna Rao 72/CC BY-SA 4.0

Dabeli

A sweet-spicy (mind you, it can get really spicy) stuffing served between the multi-purpose pav, Dabeli is something you need to cultivate a taste for. Served best with some pomegranate, it make for a very filling and very delicious snack!
Best places to eat: Vile Parle (W), towards the station, under the skywalk. A couple of lanes after the Mcdonalds. People who eat there, often tout it as the Worlds Best Dabeli. You will never know, unless you dont try, right?

Frankies

If the English bread is so famous, how can the Indian Chapati/Roti stay too far behind? The frankie, a roll, made of a roti or chapati of maida or wheat is the most delicious, easy-to-eat and portable snack there is. Take anything, from an egg bhurji or mashed potatoes to noodles, add some ketchup, vinegar and what you have is a frankie. What sets Mumbais frankies apart is that special masala which adds a super unique and delightful flavour to the whole mix. Top it off with cheese, schezwan sauce, mayonnaise or all three (yes, really) and you get what is could be touted as an Indian Shawarma.
Best places to eat: Stalls opposite Mithibai college, Shubham in Malad West (Evershine Nagar) or the famous chain, Tibbs Frankie are all amazing options for the best.

Sandwich

The French may not exactly relate to what we eat for a sandwich, but we have all the right to be proud of our version. Eat it anyway, toast or not, buttered or with cheese, with one or more vegetables, with ketchup or without, is there any way the sandwich can go wrong?
Best places to eat: Jay Sandwich. National College. Nuf said. Sandwizza outside the Santacruz station is also iconic for its grilled cheese sandwiches. (And now its brand of sandwich masala). Alternatively, like the pani puri, you must scout your area for some lesser known yet amazing sandwich walas.

Image by Amitsu12/CC BY-SA 4.0

Misal

Usal pav or misal pav (served with the farsan) is the great Maharashtrian legacy that you cannot afford to miss. Most famous for its extremely spicy taste, lesser intense variants are now available. It is best had with a sprinkling of chopped onions or some farsan to add that crunch. Misal pav is a breakfast special for Mumbai.
Best places to eat: Aaswad, near Shivaji Park, Aaram, opposite CST, the 50 year old Vinay Health Home in Charni Road and the Anand Bhuvan (which offers three levels of spicy-ness) in Lower Parel offer the best misal in town.

Lets put the street in street food, and present to you the must-visit for a binge-eating spree. Lovingly adored as the Khau Gallis, these are vast stretches dedicated to food alone.

Image by Nichalp/CC BY-SA 1.0

The original one was at Bhuleshwar, and was known to operate only post 9 pm. It is a street lined with food stalls, selling everything from sandwiches, chaat, kebabs, rolls, vada pav, chinese, faloodas, juices, ice creams, fruit salads, vegetable juices, unique items like khichya papad chaat, lakda bhel, you name it, and you have it. Now, there are such streets throughout Mumbai, in Vile Parle, Fort, Carter Road, Tardeo. It is often the go-to for professionals who want to grab a quick bite and also serves as a networking hub. If you go to the Dalal Street Khau Galli, you will see brokers talk about the trade of the day and exchange tips.

Image by Siddhartha Kandoi/CC BY-SA 3.0

Mumbai and food are incomplete without the mention of Mohammad Ali road during Ramzan where it turns into a street food gala for non-vegetarian food. Some of the best items like seekh kebabs, keema pavs, haleem, biryanis – everywhere you look, you will see meat simmering, the aromas wafting through the air and the appetite working up. Its a true test of your capacity to stuff food. All lovers of meat, you have one goal in life now!

Local flavour, local food, global appeal. Mumbai street food is simply the best!

The main image for this article was sourced from Wikimedia. Image by MilindRuparel/CC BY-SA 4.0

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